The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 25, 2010 Major News Stories



3 oil firms cut prices by P0.50/L

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) Chevron Phil. Inc. and Phoenix Petroleum will slash oil prices by P0.50 per liter effective midnight Tuesday.

Chevron Communications Manager Toby Nebrida said their price cuts, starting at 12:01 a.m., would be implemented on regular and premium gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.

Meanwhile, Phoenix will have the same price adjustments for gasoline and diesel effective 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Talisay City weighs 2 options

THE Talisay City Government is weighing its options on whether to solely run its own local water system or forge a joint venture agreement with private firms.

This, as the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) said it can provide grants if Talisay City pursues its plan to establish its own water district.

City Councilor Arturo Bas yesterday revealed two to three private firms have expressed their intentions to forge a partnership with the City Government for a joint water system project.

Bas, who is on his last term, said these companies made the proposals when he was still on his second term as a member of the legislative body.

While these firms assured to set up all the technical aspects of the projects, such as the laying down of pipelines, the City also will also get at least two seats in the water board, he said.

"Unlike in the MCWD (Metropolitan Cebu Water District), where Talisay has not been given a seat in its board. Gibaliwala lang ang Talisay (They did not give us any importance)," Bas said.

Juan Saul Montecillo, an appointee of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, chairs the MCWD board.

Bas shared the views of Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas (Cebu, 1st district) who found it unfair and unjust that the city has not been accorded the courtesy of having a seat in the MCWD board while the firm is drawing 33,000 to 35,000 cubic meters of water per day from 15 wells in Talisay.

MCWD also has a weir at the Mananga River in the upland village of Jaclupan.

In a press conference over the weekend, Gullas lamented some areas of Barangays Camp 3 and Lagtang, where MCWD has direct sources of water, have no water for their households.

The issue on the irregular supply of water in Talisay came out when Bas complained he and some of his neighbors in Lagtang have been suffering from lack of water for more than three weeks.

Bas appealed to MCWD to increase the water pressure so he could have a steady supply of water in his house, which is elevated from the Lagtang main road.

Bas revealed his MCWD taps produced water for at least two hours last Sunday and yesterday, after the issue came out through the media.

But Bas said Gullas prefers the City Government manage its own water district instead of forging a joint venture with private companies.

Gullas, the author of the Talisay City Charter, has given the go-signal for the City Council to pass an ordinance creating its own water district.

Meanwhile, LWUA executive assistant Mel Rutaquio said the LWUA, a government-owned and -controlled corporation, can extend loan grants to local government units
(LGU) if they want to establish their own water system.

LWUA's website showed the agency has already passed a board resolution providing lowered interest loans, with a maximum amortization period of 40 years.

Apart from loan grants, Rutaquio said LWUA also provides technical assistance, such as training for LGU personnel.

LWUA's mission is to develop water districts in waterless communities and help them become self-sustaining institutions.

Rutaquio said some areas in Central Visayas, including Cebu, have already availed of LWUA's financial assistance.

"The first thing that an LGU will do is to pass a resolution in the Sangguniang Bayan or Panglungsod creating a water district," he told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

The LGU will have to submit to LWUA a request for a loan grant and attach the approved resolution. The LWUA will then assess the LGU's capability, Rutaquio said.

The LGU will have no direct hand in managing the local water district financed by LWUA, as an independent board will run it.

Rutaquio said this is to avoid the involvement of politics in the running of the water firm and maintenance of its sustaina-bility.

He cited an instance wherein the local mayor was hesitant to cut off the water supply of a non-paying constituent.

In today's session of the City Council, Bas will formally bring up the state of water supply in Talisay.

"If majority of us decide, then we will summon the MCWD officials to explain before the council," he added.

Meanwhile, Socorro Atega, director of the Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water (CUSW), said yesterday Talisay City must consider different aspects before deciding on its plan to create its own water district.

City officials must first consider the governing and environmental aspects behind it, she added.

In the governing aspect, Talisay City officials must look into existing water laws to know whether the city is entitled to a seat in the MCWD board, which holds the majority of water franchises in Metro Cebu, said Atega.

As for the environmental aspect, City officials need to know whether existing water sources-like the Mananga Watershed-have enough capacity.

Hottest days in 31 years felt in Cebu

IF YOU felt extra hot during the weekend, here's why. Cebu experienced its hottest days of the month last Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures approaching levels last recorded during a heat wave over three decades ago.

Oscar Tabada of the government's weather station in Mactan revealed, in a TV Patrol Central Visayas report yesterday, that Cebu's temperature rose to 36.4 degrees Celsius during the weekend.

The last time Cebu experienced a heat wave was in the summer of 1979, when the temperature reached about 36.6 degrees Celsius, Tabada said.

Cebu, while hot, still has lower temperatures than Tuguegarao City, where temperatures hit 38 degrees Celsius last week, said Pagasa weather specialist Kelly Torregosa.

In April, the average temperature in the Visayas ranged from 24 to 34 degrees. That same month, the highest recorded temperature in Tuguegarao was 39.7 degrees.

The weather bureau is sticking to its forecast that the "moderate" El Niño, which began in June 2009, will last until June this year.

The country has seen below-normal rainfall in most areas of the Visayas, Southern Luzon and Northern and Central Mindanao. 

Scheduled brownouts may still be felt until December in Mindanao, the month when water levels in its dams which generates are expected to reach normal levels, a presidential adviser for Mindanao affairs said.
Although rains have begun to arrive in the countrys second-largest island, precipitation has been insufficient to raise water levels in dams and lakes that help generate electricity, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) chairman Jesus Dureza said.
"We were told that the level of water in the Lake Lanao has not retuned yet to normal levels," he said. "This is the reason why brownouts may still take place but it wont be as bad in some areas."
But instead of lasting 11 hours long, these brownouts may only range anywhere from three to five hours daily, especially in areas such as Cagayan de Oro, one of the bustling cities in Mindanao.
The government recently decided to release water supplies in its dams from May 9 to 11.
While the move prevented a brownout from taking place during the elections, it has aggravated water supply levels in its dams, Dureza said.
Now, these dams have to recover water until September, prompting the island to face the reality of scheduled brownouts, Dureza added.
Currently, private businesses have bought diesel-powered generating sets to cover the electricity shortfall in the island.
While the move is expected to provide temporary relief from brownouts, rates are also higher, Dureza said, adding that it was up to the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC) to set rates.
"We may have to develop more hydro power plants, but the reality is we just have to rely on non-hydro on a long term and this will mean higher prices for Mindanao," he added.
The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative Inc. (Zamcelco) has already submitted its funding request to state-led Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines so that it can buy more generators and help increase power supplies.
There are also plans to put up more power plants in Mindanao, Dureza said. However, it may take about four years before supply can meet demand.

Tomas, Eddiegul trade barbs over politics, SRP

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña called Rep. Eduardo Gullas (Cebu, 1st district) a "professional balimbing" for changing allegiances every time a new president is elected.

In a news conference yesterday, Osmeña said shifting allegiances is Gullas's style so he sees no point in inviting the congressman to join the Liberal Party (LP), where incoming president Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is from.

"Whenever there's a change of administration, he (Gullas) will change," Osmeña said.

Gullas, when sought for comment, said he left the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD to support the presidential bid of Sen. Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

"I resigned from Lakas-Kampi-CMD last February because I was supporting Villar. My Alayon Party entered into an alliance with Villar's NP," Gullas said.

Osmeña, the congressman-elect of Cebu City's south district, said the style of Gullas is the reason he called the newly formed Cebuano bloc in the House of
Representatives a "hollow block."

The Cebuano bloc, which was organized by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia's One Cebu Party, is composed of six Cebuano congressmen, who seek to unite their voices in the selection of the new House speaker.

During the recently concluded elections, Osmeña said Gullas, although a member of the One Cebu Party which endorsed administration bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr.,
supported LP gubernatorial bet Hilario Davide III and Aquino.

"You didn't know that? That's their style… He doesn't like Gwen, I know that. He hates me more but he doesn't like Gwen," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Osmeña described Gullas as inutile for claiming to have conceived the South Road Properties (SRP).

"You know, si Gullas is inutile. You know he's been claiming he's responsible for this, but if you will see the projects that were approved by him, the south (district) is completely neglected," said Osmeña.

The mayor told reporters yesterday he did not envision the SRP but rather the South Coastal Road project. Osmeña said the SRP was conceived by his grandfather, the late president Sergio Osmeña Sr.

But Gullas is now confused about Osmeña's claims.

"Which is which? His or Don Sergio's?" Gullas said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.

Osmeña also said Gullas did nothing in the creation of the second Mactan-Mandaue Bridge, which is now called the Marcelo B. Fernan Bridge.

"The second Mactan Bridge, I'm sorry. He had no effort at all.

And I challenge Gullas to prove, show any feasibility study for the second Mactan Bridge that was done during his time. There was none," said Osmeña.

In an earlier interview, Gullas said when he chaired the Regional Development Council 7, it created the Central Visayas Regional Project with two components, including the Metro Cebu Development Project (MCDP) 1.

The MCDP 1 includes the SRP, Cebu South Coastal Road, Cordova Reclamation Project and the second Mactan-Mandaue Bridge which connects Barangay Opao, Mandaue City and Barangay Pusok, Lapu-Lapu City.

Gullas called for a press conference last Sunday to correct reports that made it appear the SRP was Osmeña's brainchild.

"He (Gullas) just likes to claim everything," said Osmeña. 

Rama may fire his 'attackers'

CEBU City Vice Mayor Michael Rama yesterday warned City Hall employees who attacked him during the campaign that they will likely lose their jobs when he assumes as mayor on June 30.

As City Administrator Francisco Fernandez bid the City Government goodbye, Rama also appealed to all city officials and employees to help him run the city when his term starts.

During yesterday's flag-raising ceremony, Rama thanked Fernandez for serving the City for six years and asked him to continue to help his administration in whatever capacity he can.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña has yet to receive Fernandez's resignation letter, but he appointed assistant city administrator Juvy Morelos as officer-in-charge of the City Administrator's Office.

The mayor will also relinquish his post to mayor-elect Rama for 10 days next week, when he leaves for the US for his routine check-up and the graduation of his son Miguel.

Rama will be acting mayor when Osmeña leaves on June 4.

"I will need everybody's help. I know some people are worried about what will happen after June 30. Usa ra man pirmi nakong ibalik-balik ana sa una pa. Ang tapulan mag-worry, ang trabahador, dili mag-worry (I will repeat something I've said before. Those who are lazy should worry, and those who work hard need not worry)," he told city employees during the ceremony early yesterday morning.

And then came the warning.

"Ang kadtong nitungtong sa entablado nga nitira, dapat mag-worry gyud na, oy. Naa ba gu'y motungtong sa entablado unya tirahan pa ka unya imo pa gyud pabalikon?

Mag-worry gyud na, sakto ba ko (Those who took the stage to attack me, they should worry. Why should I allow the return of those who attacked me? They should worry, right)?"

Rama recalled the criticisms and personal attacks thrown at him during the campaign, including allegations he protected an alleged gambling and drug lord in the city.

Now that the election season is over, he hopes the intrigues will subside and that city officials and employees will work together for the good of the City.

"Atong tabangan ang tanan kay daghan kaayo ang problema na atong giatubang... Kung ako ra usa, tingali malumos ko sa kabug-at.

Apan kung kamo tanan alsahon ko ninyo, nindot kaayo paminawon ug magaan ang akong mga problema (We all need to help, because we face so many problems…The weight of all these problems would swamp me if I try to do this by myself. But if all of you help me, you will lighten my burden)," Rama continued.

While he said he respects the stand of city employees and officials who campaigned against him and other candidates of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the mayor-elect said they should also know the consequences of their actions.

"I respect what you have done. Do not worry, when it comes to that stand (you make) I salute (you). As a lawyer, I believe in standing by what you believe in and I will be there to defend you, as a lawyer. But if you make that choice, you know also the consequences of your choice," he said.

In an interview after his speech, Rama said he still has not made up his mind on the possible replacement of Fernandez, but said he is consulting his staff.

He declined to name the candidates until he has decided.

Fernandez has informed Osmeña and Rama of his resignation, saying he wants to focus on his nongovernment organization, Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc., to help farmers in the province.

The city administrator, city attorney and the public information officer occupy positions of trust and confidence, and their appointments are coterminous with the mayor's.

City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez and information officer Nagiel Bañacia also intend to submit their courtesy resignation letters to Rama, to give him the chance to choose their replacement.

Manifestos vs. 4 bry. captains

HUNDREDS of residents in four barangays in Pinamungajan town signed manifestos, alleging their barangay captains illegally used Capitol-issued vehicles.

Capitol spokesman Rory Jon Sepulveda said four sets of manifesto have been referred to the Cebu Provincial Legal Office for evaluation and study for whatever charges they can file against the barangay chiefs.

"We request the concerned barangay captains that instead of raising their complaints (of vehicle confiscation) to a certain radio program or radio station, they should address it to the Office of the Governor," Sepulveda said.

Pinamungajan Mayor Geraldine Yapha, on behalf of the barangay captains of Camugao, Tanibag, Butong and Lamac, accused Capitol officials of recalling the vehicles because Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia was defeated in these areas during the May 10 elections.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) executive director Arnel Tancinco said they will release the Province-owned flatbed trailer truck if the Capitol can produce proof of ownership and registration.

Last week, Citom traffic enforcers towed the flatbed trailer owned by Capitol for parking in an alleged "no stopping anytime" zone.

In a phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu, Tancinco said the truck would have been released immediately if the province showed proof of its ownership.

Tancinco said he sent yesterday afternoon a reply to the letter of the Provincial Engineer's Office asking why Citom towed the trailer.

In his letter, Tancinco said Citom stands firm that the trailer truck was intercepted since it violated traffic rules, saying not only was the truck abandoned but it also lacked a chassis number and registration papers.

If Capitol will redeem the trailer, it needs to pay the fines of P500 for the "no stopping violation," another P500 for abandoning the trailer, P3,000 for the towing charge and a storage fee of P2,000 per day starting last Friday.

Meanwhile, Mayor Yapha said the residents of the barangays who lost their vehicles have to walk to the venue of their community activities.

However, Sepulveda said the people from the barangays are the ones complaining against their barangay captains for using the vehicles for personal gain.

He said in Camugao, the residents signed a manifesto alleging that Barangay Captain Mario Moñasque used the vehicle in buying goods in Biasong, Talisay City and deprived the residents of a means to bring their sick family members to the hospital.

The Camugao captain also allegedly used the vehicle for partisan political activities during the May 10 elections, and instead of parking the vehicle at the Barangay Hall garage, he used it in going home.

Sepulveda said there were 110 people who signed the manifesto against Moñasque.

In Barangay Butong, Sepulveda said more than 100 residents complained against Barangay Captain Dennis Daroja for allegedly using the vehicle for partisan politics and for personal reasons.

Dozens also signed the manifesto against Tanibag Barangay Captain Benito Fernandez and the Lamac barangay captain.

Sepulveda said the governor's office received the manifestos in April or during the campaign period yet, but Capitol did not recall the vehicles until after the elections to prevent the governor's political opponents from politicizing it.

Comelec to hold special polls in Samar village on Saturday

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Eastern Visayas will hold special elections in Barangay Buenos Aires, Pagsanghan town, Samar on Saturday.

Comelec asks DoJ to probe PCOS problems

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Commission on Elections (Comelec) today asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate problems that was brought about by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine last May 10.

Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said Comelec Chairman Jose Melo himself sent him the letter asking for the DOJ assistance.

Agra said he will meet with Comelec officials to clarify the parameters of the investigation.

At the same time, Agra said he will endorse the letter to the National Bureau of Investigation and is studying the possibility of creating a task force that will investigate the machine.

4 men charged with arson for burning PCOS machine

from mb.com.ph

BONTOC, Mountain Province– Police authorities here revealed Monday that arson charges were already filed against the four men responsible for burning of a precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine and other election paraphernalia in Barangay Apalis, Bonot, Paracelis, a day after the elections.

Chief Superintendent Villamor A. Bumanglag, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Cordillera, identified the suspects in the burning of the PCOS machine as Ramos Dangasen, Jose Dakiwag, Nestor Dangangao and Mario Adawe, all of legal age and residents of Sitio Pilak, Bonot, Paracelis, this province.

Initial police investigation showed that prior to the burning of the PCOS machine and other election paraphernalia, the board of election inspectors (BEIs) and the PCOS technician were invited for breakfast by one of the residents living near the Apalis Elementary School leaving a certain Senior Police Officer (SPO1) Anselmo Gannisi and other civilians to guard the machine.

After about half an hour, the BEI members and the PCOS technician returned to the canvassing center and told the police officer to take his breakfast while waiting for the vehicle scheduled to transport the device and election paraphernalia to the municipal board of canvassers.

Compact flash cards not destroyed - Smartmatic exec

MANILA, Philippines – An official of Smartmatic Corp. today denied reports of burned or destroyed compact flash (CF) cards.

Cesar Flores of Smartmatic, the technology provider for the first automated polls in the country, said the CF cards that suffered glitches during the field testing were merely reconfigured to correct the software errors. 

"There were no CFs cards that were physically destroyed," Flores told the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms at the resumption of its probe today. 

Those present at the investigation include committee chairman and Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Quezon City Rep. Mattias Defensor, who alleged that irregularities happened in the May 10 polls. 

Flores explained that some people took the act of "burning" the CF cards as actually torching the gadgets. 

Nograles raises possible tampering of flash cards

MANILA, Philippines Speaker Prospero Nograles on Monday charged that compact flash cards (CFC) supposed to transmit the results recorded in automated counting machines might have been tampered with when they were reconfigured before May 10.

Nograles noted the physical impossibility of retrieving and returning the CFCs has arisen given the great number taken and returned to the precinct optical count scan machines the weekend before the last election.

Theres the time and motion thing. The CFCs were reconfigured five days before the election. I dont know if they were physically taken out and physically returned because if that is what happened there was physical transfer, so that means there was human intervention, Nograles said in an ambush interview at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) head office in Manila.

According to some of our IT consultants, that might have opened the door for something. Im not a techie ... Im just relying on our House IT consultants. Im asking them what is the technical effect if you reconfigure something that has been figured out already inside the machine, he added.

A lot of people are asking how it can be done, if it is possible to reconfigure flash cards and deliver them within 48 hours. And where did the replacement flash cards come from? Taiwan? I did not see a paper trail ..., Nograles said in Filipino.

The Speaker also complained that Congress was not informed formally of the reconfiguration of the CFCs. As Speaker, I was not told. I dont think the Senate President (was told) also, he said.

Nograles said it is possible that Makati Representative Teddy Boy Locsin blew his top during a session in the House of Representatives because of earlier assurances given by Comelecs election partner Smartmatic-TIM Inc. that the electronic count would be tamper-proof.

They said (the count) cannot be hacked but there are many stories now speculating that the machines may have been compromised, he said.

Comelec eyes raps vs Susano

MANILA, PhilippinesQuezon City Representative Annie Susano may be in hot water for having in her possession the compact flash card used to transmit election results that she brandished before representatives of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-TIM last week.

We are studying the legal strategy on how to deal with (lawmakers) with CF cards. We know she has CF cards and she is not authorized to have (those) in her possession, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a news conference.

We would come up with proper legal action but at this point I really cannot say. Questions (would) center on how she got (the cards). I cannot imagine anyone willingly giving it to her, he added.

Jimenez said it would be worse if Susano took the cards from a Comelec employee by force. Then you have a case right there. She has them and shes not authorized to have them, he reiterated.

In a hearing of the House committee on suffrage last week, Susano even approached Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal and Smartmatic president Cesar Flores to show them the CF card in her possession.

Smartmatic eyes manual recount to clear name

Seeking to clear its name from accusations of poll fraud, Smartmatic on Monday requested the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct a manual recount of the ballots from the recently concluded automated elections.
"There have been many accusations with no proof. To all these accusations, my best answer is even if you don't believe in the [automated] system, you can believe in a recount," said Smartmatic-Asia Pacific president Cesar Flores after attending an investigation at the House of Representatives on the alleged irregularities in the May 10 polls.

"The best way to solve this is by opening the ballot boxes. My request to Comelec and the whole country, if you don't believe the system, [is to] do a [manual] count," he added.

Flores expressed certainty that manual counting would produce the same results as those churned up by the counting machines.

CF cards

During the hearing of the House committee on electoral reforms and suffrage, Flores reiterated that Compact Flash cards could not be re-programmed as alleged by some losing candidates. He said multiple inscriptions secured the integrity of the thousands of CF cards bought for the May 10 polls.

It was the same set of CF cards that malfunctioned during Comelec's testing of the election machines last May 3, wherein results of ERs from the machines did not match those from a manual count.

The glitch-riddled testing prompted the Comelec and Smartmatic to recall 76,000 cards and replace them with reconfigured ones.

Flores said after learning about the glitch a week before the May 10 polls, they immediately placed purchase orders for new cards from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Between May 5 and 8, around 63,000 new CF cards were imported to the Philippines and reconfigured in Smartmatic's warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.

Stupid to cheat

While the 75,000 defective cards were being transported back to Smartmatic's hands, the firm had already begun the reconfiguration of around 18,000 other cards in their warehouse "just in case the defective cards do not arrive in time."

"You cannot cheat and not leave a trail. It's stupid to cheat because you will be caught," Flores assured.

He added that Smartmatic remains "innocent" on all allegations so far hurled against them, saying their personnel would never conspire with people who had planned to rig the polls as their critics alleged.

No different

Flores admitted that the controversies in Philippine elections were not so different compared to other countries whose elections they had also automated. 

"Every country we go, we see the same behavior. It's hard for people to accept their loss. But aside from words [about irregularities], there should be proof," he said.

He said he would surrender his passport to authorities so long as a legal case would be filed in the proper courts and if the court would order him to do so.

Comelec to proclaim 10 winning party-list groups Friday

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will proclaim at least 10 of the winning party-list organizations on Friday, a poll body official said Monday.
In an interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body en banc - sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) - aims to proclaim at least 10 of the party-list winners by the end of the week.

"We will have enough numbers by Friday. At the very least (we can proclaim) the top 10," Jimenez told reporters.

The Comelec en banc was supposed to proclaim the winners for the party-list race last week but the recent inquiries being conducted by the House of Representatives on alleged poll irregularities have prevented them from doing so.

According to the last tally of party-list votes released by the Comelec, the ten leading party-list organizations are:

Ako Bicol Political Party — 1,522,986 votes

Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines — 1,292,182 votes

Buhay Hayaan Yumabong Party-list — 1,249,555 votes

Akbayan Citizen's Action Party — 1,058,691 votes

Gabriela Women's Party — 1,001,421 votes

Cooperative Natcco Network Party — 943,529 votes

1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE) — 768,829 votes

ABONO — 766,615 votes

Bayan Muna — 746,019 votes

An Waray — 711,631 votes

Only Ako Bicol and 1-CARE are not incumbent party-list groups. 

The Party-list System Act (Republic Act 7941) defines the party-list system as "a mechanism of proportional representation" in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives. It says that party-list organizations shall be ranked from highest to lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.

It says that those who received at least two percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one congressional seat each while those who received more than two percent of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes. However, each party-list organization shall not be awarded more than three seats in Congress.

Senate, House seek June proclamation of president, VP

MANILA, Philippines The Joint Congressional Committee tasked to canvass the votes for president and vice-president is targeting to proclaim winners at the earliest on June 4 and the latest on June 15, officials from the House of Representatives and the Senate said Monday.

[On] our time table that I suggested this morning when I was interviewed, the earliest we can do it the better but realistically speaking, I'd say that the earliest we can proclaim is June 4, the latest as far as I'm concerned, is June 15, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile told reporters before the start of the session at the Senate.

At the opening of the joint session, Enrile said Congress, sitting as the national board of canvassers for president and vice president, would approve the rules to be used in the canvassing of the first automated elections in the country.

We will spend the first two days to hear the explanations of the Comelec, Smartmatic, and other people that we will tap about this brouhaha about failing PCOS [print count optical scan] machines, about some suspected and suspect ERs [election returns]. So that we can clear this area and proceed with the canvass expeditiously, Enrile said when asked what would delay the proclamation.

Enrile said the actual canvassing of votes would probably start on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, presiding over a caucus of congressmen early Monday afternoon, Speaker Prospero Nograles said they were aiming to finish canvassing by June 4 and were hoping that there would be few discrepancies in the tally of the votes.

He said the votes for president and vice president would be canvassed simultaneously and thus, proclamation of winners would be concurrent as well.

Nograles said he expected the rules on canvassing to be approved within the day, so that canvassing could begin by Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Ballot boxes containing printouts of electronically transmitted certificates of canvass are expected to arrive in the chamber starting Monday night.

The Senate has formally nominated on the floor the members of its panel for the joint congressional canvassing of votes for president and the vice president.

The nine-member panel will be composed of Senate President Juan Ponce-Ernile, who will head the group, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Rodolfo Biazon, Alan Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel, Gregorio Honasan, Edgardo Angara, Ramon Bong-Bong Revilla Jr. and Joker Arroyo.

It was Zubiri, who manifested the composition of the panel, when the Senate opened its session a little past 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

Zubiri also nominated four alternative members of the panel: Senators Francis Kiko Pangilinan, Lito Lapid, Pia Cayetano, and Jose Jinggoy Estrada.

Estrada, who inhibited himself from the proceedings, being the son of presidential candidate Joseph Estrada, clarified that he would not actively participate in the canvassing and that his role would be only to provide a quorum.

Estrada is trailing behind President-apparent Benigno Noynoy Aquino III in partial counts by the Commission on Elections and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

Members of the panel will be officially elected during the joint session of Congress at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

As the House convened session at 4:20 p.m. Monday, Representative Joel Villanueva of the partylist Citizens Battle Against Corruption raised an inquiry on the ratification of the Freedom of Information Act.

The bill has been ratified in the Senate but has remained pending in the lower chamber.

Legislation will be taken up after we do our constitutional duty of canvassing, Nograles said.

Enrile sees two-day delay in actual canvassing

The canvassing of votes for president and vice president could be delayed by at least two days as the lawmakers who will compose the National Board of Canvassers will hear first the explanation of poll officials regarding the irregularities that allegedly marred the May 10 elections.

In an interview with reporters after the caucus, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the actual canvassing could start on Wednesday because they would meet first with the officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and technology provider Smartmatic to clarify poll fraud allegations.

"We will spend the first two days to hear the explanation of the Comelec, Smartmatic and other people that we will tap about the so-called brouhaha about failing [election] machines, some suspected election returns and so forth and so on so we can clear this area and proceed with the canvass expeditiously," he said.

He said they would still tackle the poll fraud issue despite the fact that it was not part of their mandate.

"That will be a problem that will be taken up in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, but we will hear them, to what extent those dayaan (cheating) affected the result of the elections," Enrile said.

Rules

Another cause for delay could be the discussion on the rules that will be implemented during the canvassing.

The Senate on Monday afternoon adjourned its session less than an hour after it opened as the senators agreed to discuss the canvassing rules during the joint session Tuesday.

Enrile said he asked the senators to study the rules proposed by the House of Representatives "so that when we meet in joint session, we will adopt the rules subject to refinements as the members of the Senate might wish to introduce."

"The purpose of discussion is to see to it that we adopt transparency, credibility, fairness and accuracy in this canvass and at the same time be sure that we can accomplish our work so that the country will have a president and vice president to succeed the present presidency and vice presidency on June 30 at noon," he said.

He believed that they would be able to proclaim the new president and vice president by June 4, the earliest, or June 15, the latest.

Doubts

In a separate interview with reporters, Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed doubt whether they would be able to adopt the rules in just one day. "I doubt it. I'd like it approved right away pero mahirap ma-aprove ng isang araw yung debate sa rules (but its hard to debate on the rules in just one day)," he said.

He also doubts if they will be able to finish the canvassing in two weeks.

During the session, the chamber named its nine-man contingent to the NBC.

Senate ProTempore Jinggoy Estrada formally manifested his inhibition from the canvassing saying his father, former President Joseph Estrada, ran for President and is second ranking based on unofficial results.

"So as not to have a cloud of doubt to our electorate that this Representation will exert any pressure to the nine members of Senate to the Joint Committee to the advantage of my father and to put premium to our long respected tradition of delicadeza, I respectfully inhibit from the canvass proceedings," he said.

He, however, said he is ready to become an alternate member to provide quorum but will not participate in the proceedings.

The Senate also adopted Joint Committee Resolution 15 convening the Congress as the National Board of Canvassers for President and Vice President. The NBC will convene in a public session on May 25, Tuesday, at 2 p.m.

Palace hopes poll fraud hearings won't delay proclamation

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang hopes the proclamation of the new president and vice president will not be delayed by the House hearing on poll fraud allegations.

Losing presidential bet ask SC to stop Comelec's manual audit

MANILA, PhilippinesAng Kapatiran Party (AKP), political party of losing presidential aspirant of John Carlos JC Delos Reyes asked the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from pursuing its Random Manual Audit (RMA) of over 1,000 selected precincts.

In a nine-page petition for mandamus, AKP through its lawyer Jose M. Jose said that there is failure on the part of the Comelec to strictly implement Comelec Resolution No. 8837, which requires that the RMA of selected clustered polling precincts be conducted on May 10, immediately after the shut down of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

However, petitioners said two weeks after the elections, the RMA of the selected precincts has not yet been finished and the Comelec has yet to make a full disclosure of its reasons for the delay.

Petitioner told the high court that it should require the Comelec to fully disclose the reason for the delay in the conduct of the RMA and order the selection of new precincts for RMA.

The immediate selection and conduct of RMA has been required to limit the possibility of auditing tampered ballots.

Each day that passes increases the risk that the integrity of the ballot boxes in the precincts selected for a RMA may be compromised and that the ballots therein tampered, petitioner said.

By failing to strictly implement Comelec Resolution 8837 as amended, to ensure that the RMA is conducted as expeditiously as possible, respondent Comelec unlawfully neglected the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty to the grave prejudice of the electorate as the transparency and credibility of the automated election system is seriously undermined by a defective and delayed RMA, petitioners added.

Republic Act No. 9369 or the Poll Automation Law requires the Comelec to conduct an RMA in once precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by the poll body in each province and city.

The law provides that any difference between the automated and manual count will result in the determination of root cause and initiate a manual count for those precincts affected by the computer or procedural error.

Puno denies hand in supposed electoral fraud

MANILA, PhilippinesInterior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Monday denied allegations of talks he had with an elections commissioner, supposedly detailing attempts to commit electoral fraud in the recently-concluded automated elections last May 10.

No such conversation ever transpired nor did I in any way contemplate, much less, engage in any acts or activities to affect the integrity and accuracy of the elections, Puno said in a statement.

It was the first time Puno reacted after his name was dragged into the matter. Reporters expected Puno to be the guest of honor at the Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces 27th anniversary but the Interior chief failed to attend the ceremonies early Monday morning.

Puno said that he did not know or have even spoken with Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer.

Puno said the allegations of koala bear were crude attempts to smear the elections.

He said the move was caused by irresponsible and criminal minded people to cause instability, distrust in our institutions, and a declaration of election failure.

Puno urged the public to ignore these issues and focus on the proclamation of the next president and vice president, adding that bad losers should not be allowed to dominate the political agenda of the country.

I believe the 2010 elections and the Comelec official tabulations are and were a true reflection of the peoples will. I will do everything possible under the law to ensure that the elected national and local officials are enabled to exercise the mandate they have received from our voters, Puno said.

Puno, having lied low throughout the entire campaign season up until the end of the elections, said that he voted for Lakas-Kampi bets Gilbert Teodoro and Edu Manzano.

Despite this, he said he trusted the unofficial counts of Comelec that revealed Senator Benigno Aquino III as the winner.

Mayor Jejomar Binay is a friend, even if he knows he was not my choice for the vice-presidency. I congratulate him sincerely for a superb campaign and his apparent victory, Puno said.

Australian PM congratulates Aquino

MANILA, PhilippinesAnother head of state, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, made a phone call to president apparent Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Monday to congratulate him on his impending victory.

Aquino himself confirmed this after receiving the phone call from Rudd late Monday noon.

"Tumawag na si PM Kevin Rudd," he said in a text message.

"He told me to enjoy the celebration and then he congratulated me," Aquino said in a separate phone interview.

Aquino said they also talked the "mutual interests" of their respective countries.

Rudd was the fourth head of state, who have so far congratulated Aquino after China, Japan and Spain.

Spain's President Zapatero congratulates Noynoy

from mb.com.ph

With Congress still to begin the national canvassing of votes for the two highest posts in the land, presidential race frontrunner Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III has received congratulatory messages from foreign dignitaries representing Spain, China, Japan and Korea.

Even before Aquino met with United States Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. last Friday, the Liberal Party standard bearer has already received letters conveying congratulatory messages from President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Ambassador Luis Arias Romero of Spain, Ambassador Liu Jianchao of China, Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo, Japan, and President Hyungtae Kim of Hannam University of Korea.

In his letter transmitted through Spanish Ambassador Romero, Spanish President Zapatero said the government of Spain is willing to closely cooperate with the Republic of the Philippines under an Aquino administration.

"I wish you all the success during your presidential term and at the same time I want to convey to you my conviction that relationship between Spain and the Philippines will continue to increase in all fields, in line with our two countries' historic and cultural common past and taking into account that we share identical objectives of freedom, social justice and progress," the Spanish chief executive said in the letter.

For his part, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao to the Philippines said Aquino is "well-poised to claim a defining victory in the presidential elections" even if the election results are still pending.

"China, bound to the Philippines through ties of history and friendship, will be reenergized to work with your focused and capable leadership aimed at advancing China-Philippines strategic relationships of cooperation with more strength, depth and fruits," Ambassador Lui said, adding that he hopes to see the likely President-elect soon before the China-RP relations mark its 35th anniversary next month.

Meanwhile, Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo summons memories of Senator Aquino's parents when he commended his commitment to dispel the public's distrust in government.

"I pray that you will carry on the legacy of your dear father, who staked his life to spearhead the movement to overthrow autocracy and restore democracy in the Philippines. I am confident that your love of your country and its people will serve to bring increasing prosperity to your great nation," the governor said.

While the Tokyo governor recounted the life of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., President Hyungtae Kim of Hannam University of Korea has remembered the visit of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino to their academe back in 1998.

"Having met your mother, the former President, we would like to say how wonderful a blessing it is to see her son has followed in her considerable footsteps and how confident we are that you will succeed," President Hyungtae Kim said.

The office of Senator Aquino has reportedly received the letters from these foreign dignitaries last May 17. Scanned copies of the letters were made available throughwww.noynoy.ph/blogs.

Aquino denies sisters' part on search committee for Cabinet posts

MANILA, Philippines President apparent Beningo Noynoy Aquino III on Monday denied that his sisters are part of the search committee that will screen applicants for various government posts, saying they were just assisting him.

Aquinos sistersBallsy and Pinkywere reported to be members of the committee along with Aquinos chief of staff, Julia Abad, among others.

They are there to assist me, to know that things that I did not know during the campaign because I was out on the field, he told reporters in the Senate.

But to be really part of the search committee only in so far as to parang [like] validate my opinions of certain people, who they worked with on a more constant basis during the campaign, he said.

Aquino said his sisters were part of the campaign group and they were narrating to him their experiences with the people that he is now considering for certain positions in the government.

The reported names of people that he was supposedly considering for various Cabinet posts, he said, were also wrong.

Despite this, Aquino refused to identify the members of the search committee as well as the people he was considering for his Cabinet.

So far, Aquino had identified only three persons he was considering for his Cabinet and they were Corazon Dinky Soliman, who agreed to return as head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Teresita Deles, who he also offered to return as presidential adviser on peace process, and retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who he offered to become the Justice Secretary but declined.

PNP taps elite force for transition watch

MANILA, PhilippinesAmid fears of delay in the proclamation of the new president, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday directed its elite combat unit to be ready to defend the countrys democratic processes.

Director General Jesus Verzosa, the PNP chief, underscored the important role of the Special Action Force (SAF) in ensuring the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

According to him, the performance of the SAF commandos in the May 10 automated voting proved that the elite force remains to be the PNPs most important unit.

This day, (I) would like to remind you that we are into the next target of our protection and defense of the different processes of our democracy, Verzosa said during the SAFs 27th anniversary at Camp Crame.

Let us support the peaceful transition of government to the next political leaders, he continued.

In his speech, the PNP chief lauded the SAF troopers for their commitment in keeping peace and order in election hotspots across the archipelago.

(You are the) defender of our people and of the just-concluded democratic process. You have become defenders of our Constitution and the defenders of our democracy, he said.

Verzosa added: We can proudly say that we have done our part, we have worked for it and we have been successful in having an honest, orderly and credible elections.

Verzosa, who takes pride in being a SAF trooper himself, vowed to work for the improvement of the special units combat capabilities by allocating funds for the procurement of needed weaponry and modern equipments.

He said additional funding would be allotted to bolter SAFs seaborne units as well as for purchasing new patrol vehicles.

Together, the territorial units and the SAF mobile units will get around 80 percent of the funds channeled to them. The headquarters receive very less, he said.

OIC urges GRP, MNLF, MILF to work for peace

from mb.com.ph

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The influential Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has urged the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to work together in tandem with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to attain a lasting peace in Mindanao.

As this developed, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) head Annabelle T. Abaya hailed the call of the OIC and termed it as "a big boost to the peace initiative of the government."

"We express our profound appreciation to the OIC for its continued support in the Philippine quest for peace," Abaya said in a statement. OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanuglo is working for the unity of the ranks of the MNLF and MILF "for the peace and development of the Bangsamoro people."

During the 37th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC in Tajikistan over the weekend, Ihsanuglo met with Al-Haji Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, and Professor Nur Misuari, MNLF founding chair, and asked the two leaders to work together for peace and development of the people in Mindanao.

"I hail the initiative of the OIC to help bring the MNLF and MILF together to work with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in pursuing the aspirations of the Bangsamoro," Abaya said.

According to Abaya, this new "development is a giant step in moving the peace process forward and inspiring all peace-loving people that peace is better achieved by negotiations than by violence."

It can be recalled that a big chunk of members of the MNLF, now constituting the MILF, broke off ties with the MNLF when they entered into a peace agreement with the government on September 2, 1996.

The peace agreement ended more than two decades of violence in southern Philippines, but the MILF pursued its campaign, resulting in many violent clashes with government forces.

Last April, the GRP and the MNLF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Tripoli, Libya to adopt the proposals of the joint legal panels to enhance Republic Act (RA) 9054, to create a fund mechanism for generating funds from OIC countries for the Southern Philippines Development Fund, and to conduct consultations on still to be resolved issues.

In the government's peace efforts with the MILF, formal peace negotiations in Kuala Lumpur resumed last December 8, after 16 months in the doldrums following the aborted signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) which was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

"United as Filipinos pushing concertedly the peace, we become a more potent, more effective force in creating greater security, progress and growth for Mindanao," she added.

Coast Guard bares new modus operandi of foreign pirates

Peso drops to three-and-a-half-month low on risk aversion

by Reuters
MANILA, Philippines, -- The peso shed nearly 0.4% to P46.68 to the dollar in morning trade on Monday, the lowest since early February, as investors shun riskier assets on fear that the euro zone's debt crisis could undermine world growth.

BoC posts P719-million surplus

from mb.com.ph

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has posted a P719 million surplus to exceed its revenue target of P22.69 billion for April but four out of its five major collection ports fell short of its respective goals during the same period.

Citing data culled from BoC, these ports incurred a total shortfall of P1.418 billion except for the Port of Manila (PoM) that had P1.5 billion surplus for the month.

"If not for the PoM's biggest surplus collection, the bureau could have not sustained its positive performance for the previous months. It has picked up the slack for other ports," a Customs official, who provided the report, said.

Among the ports that failed to hit its target were the Manila International Container Port (MICP), Ports of Batangas and Limay,and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). They were tasked to collect P14 billion in revenues.

The same report showed that the Limay port fell short of P651 million, followed by Manila International Container Port (MICP) with a shortfall of P287 million. NAIA and Batangas Port posted a deficit of P253 million and P227 million, respectively.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said the shortfall in the collections of these ports was due to the higher target for April compared to the previous months. "The higher the targets, the more difficult for us to do our job."

Morales cited the enormous challenge to be faced by his successor to meet a higher target of P331.1 billion for 2011. "He just has to continue what I have started," the commissioner said.

Apart from the PoM, other ports that posted surplus collection for the month were collection ports in San Fernando, Iloilo, Tacloban, and Davao.

Strong earthquake rocks Brazil-Peru border—USGS

BRASILIAA strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Monday in a jungle area near the mountainous border of Brazil and Peru but was barely felt on the surface and caused no damage, US and Brazilian experts said.

The temblor, with its center about 127 kilometers (79 miles) east-southeast of Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil, and 328 kilometers (204 miles) east of Pucallpa, in Peru's Andes, struck at 1618 GMT, the USGS said.

The quake originated from a relatively deep 580 kilometers (350 miles) under the surface.

A spokesman for the civil defense service in Cruziero do Sul said the quake almost went unnoticed, and added such activity was not unusual in the region.

"This zone suffers a lot of earthquakes, but the last one we really felt was 20 days ago. We didn't register any disorder or damage on the surface" from Monday's quake," he said.

Brazil's Seismological Observatory told AFP the region sat above the South American and Andean tectonic plates, which resulted in a lot of deep-earth seismic activity.

"Generally speaking, quakes more than 500 kilometers deep don't leave signals in the surface, they are only detected by instruments," one observatory official said.

On Sunday, another strong 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted several regions of Peru including the capital, Lima, with no damage immediately reported, Peru's National Geophysics Institute reported.

That followed a 6.0-magnitude earthquake which hit northern Peru early Wednesday some 131 kilometers (81 miles) north-northwest of the town of Moyobamba.

ASEAN talks on labour rights 'to be continued': minister

by Agence France-Presse
HANOI, Vietnam - ASEAN ministers will hold further talks on a convention formally protecting the region's millions of migrant workers, Indonesia's labour minister said Monday.

Mayweather is bettors' pick versus Pacquiao

The contracts have yet to be signed but oddsmakers have installed Floyd Mayweather Jr. the favorite over Manny Pacquiao if they agree to fight on November 13.

Sportsbook lists Mayweather as minus150, while Pacquiao is plus120.

Under this scheme, a $150 bet on Mayweather wins $100, while a $100 wager on Pacquiao wins $120.

Mayweather's strong impression stems from his lopsided victory over Shane Mosley early this month at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a win that overshadowed Pacquiao's unanimous victory decision over Ghanaian Joshua Clottey last March at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

People from Pacquiao and Mayweather's camps, meanwhile, are in the thick of negotiations to seal a deal for what could be the richest fight in the history of boxing.

The main talking points are the purse-split and Olympic-style drug testing even as Pacquiao has agreed to be tested 14-day cutoff.

Despite Pacquiao's bold move, Mayweather's camp has refrained from issuing any statement.


GM Paragua tops New York chess tilt

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Mark Paragua settled a truce with American International Master (IM) Justin Sarkar in the 3rd and final round to emerge as the overall champion of the Prove Your Point Chess Championships in Manhattan, New York.

ESPN is reporting that the Cleveland Cavaliers have fired coach Mike Brown.
In a story posted on ESPNs website citing a source, the Cavaliers had until midnight on Sunday to fire Brown or pay him his full $4.5 million salary for next season.
Brown had one year remaining on a contract extension he signed after taking the Cavaliers to their first NBA finals in 2007. Hes 314-167 in five seasons with Cleveland and has guided the team to the postseason in each of his five seasons. The Cavaliers finished the regular season with an NBA-best 61 wins, but were bounced out of the playoffs in the second round by the Boston Celtics.

Philippine president-apparent Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III is not keen on being a poster boy for anti-smoking advocates, at least for now.
On Monday, Aquino told reporters that he would stop his smoking habit at the "appropriate" time, but said there may be too much pressure on him to kick the habit at this time.
"Noong tumakbo ako, alam ng taumbayan [na] naninigarilyo ako. At the appropriate time na hihinto ako, titigil ako. So long as nako-control ako sa mga batas at wala akong naiistorbo baka parte ito ng kalayaan kong natitira," Aquino said.
(When I ran for the presidency everyone knew I was a smoker. Perhaps I will kick the habit at the appropriate time. But for now, I hope people give me this leeway, as part of my remaining rights.)
Last weekend, anti-tobacco groups urged Aquino, a smoker, to be a poster boy of sorts for their anti-smoking crusade.
Even the Department of Health (DOH) said it is coming out with an administrative orderto put graphic warnings in tobacco products, and is hoping for support from the countrys most powerful smoker.
But Aquino admitted there is presently so much pressure on him because of the problems he will face as incoming president.
"Maraming pressure tayo[ng] papasukan. Dadagdagan ko ng unnecessary pressure,baka naman maapektuhan ang desisyon na dapat natin gawin (I will face so much pressure in my new job. I fear kicking the habit at this time will add to that pressure, and will affect the decisions I will make)," he said.


Kiko Pangilinan answers rumored infidelity, Korina rift

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis Pangilinan, husband of Megastar Sharon Cuneta, denied rumors that he fathered an illegitimate child and regarded the issue as a dirty ploy of political enemies to besmirch his name.

Mangudadatu denies romantic link to starlet

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Maguindanao governor-elect Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu on Monday expressed anger over news that he is being linked to a sexy star.

The issue came up after Mangudadatu thanked starlet Ynez Veneracion in an event at the Bonifacio Global City, for participating in his campaign sorties.

Mangudadatu said that the gathering for his supporters was a public event, and that showed that there was no malice in thanking Veneracion.

He also denied that he did not attend events for the commemoration of the sixth month since the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, where his wife and numerous other relatives and journalists were killed.

He said he was invited to an event in General Santos City, but he said they also had an activity in Buluan, Maguindanao, where he is mayor.

He said they accommodated more than 3,000 visitors in the Buluan event, where folk star Freddie Aguilar also launched his song about the massacre.

Mangudadatu is currently focusing on preparing for his assumption into the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao.


Robin finds it hard to say goodbye to 'Wowowee'

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Robin Padilla is leaving popular noontime show "Wowowee" with a heavy heart.

Charice dreams to get first Grammy nomination

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – International singing sensation Charice flew to Japan Monday for the launching of her first international album in Tokyo.

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